Maritime Person of the Year Qualifications & Past Recipients

The recipient is an individual that has an avid interest and appreciation of wooden boats. One who has knowledge of or contributed to, its history, development and the preservation of the wood boat legacy and future.

Association members nominate and vote for the recipient who is honored as the Association's Maritime Person of the Year at the Sunday Awards Breakfast during the annual Olympia Wooden Boat Fair.

Past Recipients


The Maritime Persons for 2023 are.

Capt. Peter E. Riess and Dennis G. Ballard

Peter and Dennis have owned their classic wooden boat, RIPTIDE (a 1939 53’ Elco Motor Yacht) for 25 years. They purchased her in near derelict condition from where she had been deteriorating after the Riptide TV show was cancelled in the 1980’s. They spent five years restoring her to her current condition. Riptide has won many “Best in Show” awards over the years. This was their second restoration, the first being a 1941 Chris Craft 34’ Deluxe Enclosed Sedan.

Elco Yachts were in Peter’s blood, as he had cruised from New York to Maine on his family’s Elco, named Ripple. He has been boating his entire life, and holds a USCG 100 Ton Captains Credential.

Dennis came to boating much later, and has enjoyed both the cruising and the restoration aspects of owning a classic equally. He retired from Warner Brothers after many years in the film and TV production industry.

They divide their time between homes in Port Orchard, WA and The Villages, FL., and are members of the Classic Yacht Association where Dennis has served twice as a Fleet Commodore and Peter has served as both a Fleet Commodore, Fleet Director and International Commodore.

  We had no Maritime Person of the Year for 2020, 2021 or 2022 due to Covid.
2019 Diane Lander

Born and raised in Kirkland, Washington, Diane Lander spent her childhood following her Fisheries Biologist father around the Pacific Northwest to look at salmon hatcheries, his idea of a great time.  He imposed a love of the water and the protection of the environment on his daughter.

Many years later, in 1994, Diane and her late husband, John VanDerbeek bought their first “real” boat after owning a small speed boat on Lake Washington.  Diane and John bought the MV Olympus, a 1929 97’  fantail motor yacht with absolutely no wooden boat ownership experience.  They quickly became accomplished wooden boat caretakers, bringing the MV Olympus to Haven Boatworks in Port Townsend every winter for major projects.  The yacht was available for luxury charters, and donated extensively for charitable events throughout the Pacific Northwest.  In 2009, John died suddenly at age 57.  Diane kept the MV Olympus and carried on her mission of sharing the yacht throughout the Pacific Northwest at wooden boat shows and for charitable events.

Eventually, Diane decided to purchase a smaller yacht she could operate herself.  The Marian II, a 1928  42’ Lake Union Dreamboat became available and in January of 2014, Diane became her caretaker, assuming that the Olympus would sell immediately.  The Marian II also has an interesting history, having been owned by Herb Cleaver for nearly 50 years, and serving as the first boat to start the tradition of boating to UW Husky games.   Diane soon discovered the limited market for a yacht such as Olympus, eventually selling her to an east coast buyer.  Olympus was relocated to the east coast where she was built in 1929 in 2017 after over 3 years on the market.  A retired lawyer with good negotiation skills, Diane managed to procure three weeks aboard the Olympus as part of the sale.  The first week was enjoyed in the Bahamas in February of 2018 and the next week is going to be in the Hamptons this July. 

In the meantime, Diane learned to captain and navigate the Marian II.  Previously on the Olympus, Diane had always had a professional captain.  Now she was responsible for the navigation and safety of herself and her crew which always includes her two French Bulldogs, Calais and CoCo Chanel.  Diane absolutely LOVES captaining the Marian II and last year was awarded the “Best Attendance” award by the Pacific NW fleet of the Classic Yacht Association.  Diane currently serves as Vice Commodore of all fleets of the Classic Yacht Association and loves sharing the Marian II at Wooden Boat Festivals.  She is so grateful to the wooden boat community and the strong support of her prior captains who have helped her learn to operate her gorgeous yacht.  This year she serves on the Lake Union Drydock Centennial Committee as the 100th anniversary of the yard which built the Marian II is being celebrated in 2019.  Diane cordially invites all wooden boat fans to the Bell Street Classic Weekend to be held at the Bell Harbor Marina, Pier 66, in Seattle on June 15-16 where the LUDD built vessels will be celebrated and will be on display.   Also a member of Seattle Yacht Club, Diane is responsible for chairing the Classic Vessel Subcommittee for Opening Day of Boating every year and making sure that the wooden boat community is well represented in the Opening Day parade the first Saturday of every May in Seattle.

2018 Jim and Margie Paynton
  Jim and Margie met as students in the School of Music at the University of Washington.  They have been married for 42 years, and both recently retired from teaching music.

They grew up in the Seattle area, and both were fascinated from an early age by the waters of Puget Sound and Lake Washington.  Jim’s family had a history of boating, and Jim grew up appreciating the love and nurturing of wooden boats.  After their marriage, Margie soon was caught up in the wooden boat scene, as they worked with Jim’s dad George on restoring and cruising the family’s 1941 30’ Chris-Craft, Terry-Deb.  Jim and Margie’s two children, Mary and Matt, learned to love and respect the water while growing up cruising throughout Puget Sound and British Columbia aboard that lovely old classic.

When the opportunity arose for them to purchase their “dream boat,” a 1940 42’ Chris Craft Double Cabin, Jim and Margie took possession of her in 1988, and began an extensive restoration.  The Maranee was beautiful, and her wood was healthy, but many of her systems were down, and her lovely Philippine mahogany was covered over with many layers of paint.  As all owners of classic boats well know, the word “done” is not in the vocabulary of wooden boat ownership, and the Maranee’s restoration is ongoing to this day.
2017 We had no Maritime Person of the Year for 2017.
2016 John Hurst

John Hurst is our 2016 Maritime Person of the Year. Born in 1921, John grew up on the water.  He was even brought home as an infant from the hospital in a rowboat! John’s father owned and operated tugboats in the Puget Sound area, which is where his love of boats began.
In 1942, John enlisted in the US Coast Guard, which was under the direction of the US Navy at that time, to fight in WWII. He was assigned to the East Coast on the Navy frigate USS Uniontown. As quartermaster and assistant navigation officer, John was responsible for the chronometer and about 1,000 charts. The Uniontown provided escort service to convoys traveling to Oran, Algeria. John spent nearly four years either at sea or in the Mediterranean while serving his country.
After WWII, John came back to the Puget Sound, and worked as a deckhand, which included the well-known tugboat, the Sandman (now operating as a floating museum, located at Percival Landing). He also worked for Shelton Towing Co, which was involved in moving logs and barges in the water. As captain of the Manke Lumber Co. tugboat Danielle, he was again involved in the logging industry. His wife, Shirley, sometimes worked as a cook for the crew of four. John also spent some time in Alaska on fishing boats. Fishing in Neah Bay was a favorite pastime, when he wasn’t working.

John is no stranger to the Olympia Wooden Boat Club. At age 79, he won a rowing contest at one of the Olympia Wooden Boat Fairs in a 12 foot dinghy! However, at 94, John doesn’t spend much time on the water anymore. But his love for all things nautical continues, which shows in his work carving models of boats, like the Sandman. John and his wife, Shirley, live in Olympia, in a house John designed and built. He keeps in touch with his son, Rod, and his grandchildren, who live in New Mexico.
2015 Tarin Todd
  Boats and our maritime community have always been a part of my life. Growing up, my father would take me down to the Port of Tacoma on the weekends and we would park and watch all the activity- the big ships coming and going, the cranes moving tons of cargo, what great memories and experiences for a young boy to have. My family was also members of the Tacoma Outboard Association.
I joined Sea Scout Ship 110, Charles N. Curtis on July 1st, 1996. My first exposure to Sea Scouting was taking a tour of the Curtis when I was 10, and I knew then that I wanted to be a Sea Scout. Little did I know at the time how important Sea Scouting would be in my life. The skills I have learned and developed through Sea Scouts, both hands on and interpersonal, are so important and the maritime environment is a perfect place to develop them.
Today, boating is still a big part in my life. I continue to volunteer with the Charles N. Curtis Sea Scouts, teaching and developing youth through hands on maritime skills to build the leadership skills they will need into the future. I also hold a 100 ton masters license (captain’s license) which I use with the Sea Scouts as well as my current employment at Citizens for a Healthy Bay (CHB).
At CHB, I am the Bay Patrol Director. My role is to cruise the waters of the City of Tacoma, Port of Tacoma and the South Sound looking for active sources of pollution and potential derelict boats. I partner through my position with local, state and federal agencies to address environmental issues affecting our waters.
Even my free time is often spent boating. I like to get on the water in my kayak or under the water scuba diving.
2014 Scott Kimmitt

1979 - S.W. Harbor Maine- I began my carrier as a shipwright working on the Stinson Canning Fleet and private vessels.
1980-1984 - Enrolled at The Evergreen State College-Philosophy,writing, critical thinking and maritime  History and boat building. B.A. Arts-1984
Norwegian Rowing Pram-built by eye.
19' Mackinaw Double Ended Ketch-featured in "Wooden Boat Magazine"
1986-1988 - Worked under Carl Brownstein Constructed 3 Custom Boats
Bolger Design-30' Custom
Bancroft-42' Custom Sloop
Lyle Hess-30' Cutter
1985-1998 - Olympia Shipwrights-Co-Owner with Andy Stewart, present owner of Emerald Marine, Anacortes Wa.
Major structural repairs on a variety of vessels. Including bulwarks,planking, framing, keels, caprails, and transoms.
Terodo-1926 River Tug- Owner Mark Osborne
1960 Winthrop Ketch-36'- Owner Todd Chambers
Venture-1966(?) Monk Pilot House Cruiser-Owner Bob Martin
1999-2000 -Lady Washington- Tall ship Replica
Rebuild Transom and stern section
2000-2012 -Lady Washington-Tall Ship Replica-owner Gray's Harbor Historical Seaport
Lead Shipwright
Replacement of foredeck group tackle gear, windlass, knight head, catheads, and sampson post.
Three complete standing sail rigs for "Pirates of the Caribbean"
Major above water lie hull repairs of frames,planking, decks, and mainhold hatch.
2013-2014 - Lead shipwright- complete re-build-1956 William Garden Design 38' Swordfisher
90% re-framing with oregon white bending oak
complete reconstruction of foredeck beams
complete re-fasening of hull
complete replacement of decks, fore and aft
" replaced aprox. 260' topside planks
Completely re-caulked (oakum and cotton)"

2013 Eng Ellis (deceased)

Eng was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on March 13, 1929.  While working on his boat, Eng passed away unexpectedly on February 13, 2013, at the age of 83.
After graduating from Logan High School in LaCrosse, he attended a local college, then enlisted in the US Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington.
He entered his banking career in 1956 at Olympia State Bank.  He later went to work for South Sound Bank until 1972.  He then went to work as a comptroller for a group of restaurants, which included the Falls Terrace.  Eng retired in 1994.
In 1969  Eng purchased his first Fairlner a 27 footer from the factory.  He was the proud captain of only two Fairliners for 46 years.  His last boat was also a 1969 Fairliner, a 36 footer, moored at the Olympia Yacht Club.
Eng was a member of the Olympia Wooden Boat Association and the Fairliner Yacht Club.
Eng is survived by his wife of 30 years Dixie, two brothers and a sister, and one daughter.

2012 Bob Peck
  Dr. Robert Peck was born in North Dakota, graduated from High School in Wisconsin, attended Whitworth College in Spokane, the Pacific School of Religion and the University of California in Berkeley and did his doctoral research at Oxford in England. He began his career as a professor of religion and philosophy at Linfield College in Oregon and ended as president of Philips University in Oklahoma.  His love for building and sailing wooden boats began when, at 10 years old, he watched his father (a small town Baptist Pastor) build an 8’ sail boat in the family garage.
2011 Chuck Fowler
  With a longtime interest in maritime heritage activities, Chuck Fowler grew up on the water and in boats in Tacoma and on Puget Sound.   He is immediate past president of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society in Seattle, and founding executive director of the Working Waterfront Maritime Museum in Tacoma.  Chuck was also founding co-coordinator of the Pacific Northwest Maritime Heritage Council of maritime organizations in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.  He and his wife Karla have lived in Olympia for the past 35 years. 
2010 Kerry Jamieson
  Kerry has been involved with boats and boating for most of his life, he learned to love the water and boats from his grandfather who ran a freight boat from Olympia to Grapeview. So his love of watercraft, both for building and playing has been a part of his life since before he first learned to row his family’s rowboat at age 7. From that point on, he has almost always had a boat ‘in the works’ or was on a vessel, either playing or working.
2009 Tom Regan
  Having been hooked on sailing as a teen, Tom Regan was in and out of boating until 1987 when he purchased Twilight, a 30 ft gaff ketch built in 1935. One day in 2002, during a break in a 25 year career in electronics, Tom was rowing the boat he’d built. Another boater came alongside and asked who built the rowboat. Tom replied he did, which prompted the next question, “Do you make boats for other people?” Tom replied, “Sure!” and the next day got a business license which founded Grapeview Point Boat Works.
2008 Dell and Penny Gibson
  Dell and Penny have been involved in the Olympia Wooden Boat Fairs since 1984. They, along with their two sons, Jeff and Scott participated in entering the family boat that year. In 1985, they joined the Olympia Wooden Boat Association and took on the chairmanship of Dock master and Publicity. Dell developed a computer program that helped place the boats at the docks as well as keep track of arrival times and registration, along with a short history of each participating boat. Penny & Dell also helped develop the vendor and food alley part of the fair and made a logistic plan for the food and product vendors as well as boat moorage on the docks.
2007 Tom Rogers

President of the Youth Marine Foundation, Tom manages the Sea Scouts, one of the largest all-volunteer Marine related youth programs in the United States. Membership ranges from 110 to 150 young men and women. Tom is the Senior Captain of the Charles N. Curtis, Sea Scout Ship 110, home based on the Foss Waterway in Tacoma. The Curtis is used by the Coast Guard to train new members on seamanship and wooden boat construction.

2006 Patrick Barmes
  Patrick, a graduate of TESC, studied outdoor education and has been active in the outfdoor field ever since the late 1970's. He is the winner of the Willy Unsoeld Award. He worked his way through school as a boat builder with Carl Brownstein at Rights of Man Boatworks in Shelton. He assisted in the restoration of the schooner "Martha" and sailed with her for four years. He had the pleasure to join her on her trip to San Francisco back in 1982.
2005 Paul Deranleau
  Paul Deranleau is head of the Sandman Foundation. He is lead carpenter and crew chief for the restoration project of the Sandman.
2004 Jim Kannitzer (deceased)
  A past wooden boat lover with his first boat Ruby's Rug (where he was originally going to purchase a new carpet for his wife, instead purchased a boat and then his Chris Craft Cruiser-Lady J) - Jim has been past president of the Olympia Wooden Boat Association, encourages new boat owners with his expertise skills on how to varnish, maintain a boat -" get a boat house or be under cover" and the one of the associations best promoter to the community about the Olympia Wooden Boat Fair and Association.
2003 Dan Moldenhauer of Shelton
  For his many times of assistance with engines of wooden boats for old and new owners of wooden boats . All wooden boat owners consider him the expert to go to when having engine problems or questions.
2002 Robin Patterson of Gig Harbor (deceased)
  Captain of the tug Joe. Shares his knowledge of wooden boats,tugs and navigation with many groups such as the Maritime Association of Tacoma.
2001 Patrick Haskett of Steilacoom
  For his mastering tugs and other wooden vessels, a past member of the association. A well know artist for his pictures featuring wooden boats
2000 Sarah Pedersen of Olympia
  Teacher at Evergreen State College in the boating classes for students to master their skills on long jaunts on SeaWulf and Resolute sail boats owned by the college.
1999 Terry Paine of Tacoma
  Owner of 72 ft. Schooner "Red Jacket" with his wife Renee, has been instrumental in the Sea Explorer Program, past skipper of the "Odessey" sail boat instructing youth history of wooden boats, navigational and seamanship.
1998 C.W. "Bill" Somers of Grapeview (deceased)
  Curator of the Grapeview Maritime Museum
1997 Richard Miles of Olympia
  A shipwright and a noted West Coast authority on traditional boat and shipbuilding practices. One of the designers and chief builders of the Lady Washington.
1996 Don Fassett (deceased)
  An individual who has contributed to the interest and preservation of wooden boats. A mechanical engineer retired in 1975, Don olunteered with the "Seawulff" and the "Resolute in conjunction with the marine study program with Evergreen State College. Don volunteers his time and his 40ft Gulf "Swirl II" as an instructor with students in the sailing and navigation area at Evergreen State College.
1994 Norman Blanchard (deceased)
  Selected for his boat building expertise in the Seattle area.
1993 Ray Gillespie of Olympia
  Selected for his working with Boy Scouts of America for over 50 years in the Sea Scout Explorer Post 453. Ray has spent his experience teaching youth navigational and seamanship with the R.E. Gillespie.
1992 Franz Schlottmann of Olympia (deceased)
  Has been active in maritime activities with the tug "The Sandman", past owner of the little classic "The Wombat", past member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 38 of Olympia, and a charter member of the South Sound Martitime Historical Association and Olympia Wooden Boat Association.
1991 Fritz Dalby of Shelton (deceased)
  Boat builder and master caulker who worked in many boat yards in Seattle.
1990 Sam Devlin of Olympia
  Local designer and boat builder. Devlin's boats are noteworthy not only for their high degree of finish, but for the distinctive styling he has given to his chined plywood designs. He is the founder of the Olympia Wooden Boat Children's Boat Building booth and also one of the founders of the Olympia Wooden Boat Fair and Association.
1989 H.A. Long Jr. of Olympia
  Nearly 70 years of boat building tradition in his family, he still thinks wood makes the best boats. Best known for his hand-worked lapstrake rowboats and wooden canoes.
1988 W. H. Dole of Gig Harbor (deceased)
  Retired wooden boat builder and owner of "Evening Star".
1987 Gordon Newell of Olympia (deceased)
  Historian of wooden boats along Percival Landing and Olympia area.
1986 Captain Albert Giles of Olympia (deceased)
  A 3rd generation boat builder. Best known for his long standing interest and expertise in tug boats and steam engines.
1985 Bob Ruchty of Olympia (deceased)
  Selected for workmanship of building canoes and small craft wooden boats since 1941.